Excerpt from “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain ~~Annihilation~~

The Connecticut Yankee has alienated himself from the Church and is facing attack by many thousands of knights. Together with his ever-faithful Clarence, he has 52 young cadets to support him, but they have made deadly preparation for the onslaught.


picture-ConnecticutYankee-TwainOne thing seemed to be sufficiently demonstrated: our current was so tremendous that it killed before the victim could cry out. Pretty soon we detected a muffled and heavy sound, and next moment we guessed what it was. It was a surprise in force coming! I whispered Clarence to go and wake the army, and notify it to wait in silence in the cave for further orders. He was soon back, and we stood by the inner fence and watched the silent lightning do its awful work upon the swarming host. One could make out but little of detail; but he could note a black mass was piling itself up beyond the second fence. That swelling bulk was dead men! Our camp was enclosed with a solid wall of the dead – a bulwark, a breastwork, of corpses, you may say. One terrible thing about this thing was the absence of human voices; there were no cheers, no war cries: being intent upon a surprise, these men moved as noiselessly as they could; and always when the front rank was near enough to their goal to make it proper for them to begin to get a shout ready, of course they struck the fatal line and went down without testifying.
I sent a current through the third fence, now; and almost immediately through the fourth and fifth, so quickly were the gaps filled up. I believed the time was come, now, for my climax; I believed that that whole army was in our trap. Anyway, it was high time to find out. So I touched a button and set fifty electric suns aflame on the top of our precipice.
Land, what a sight! We were enclosed in three walls of dead men! All the other fences were pretty nearly filled with the living, who were stealthily working their way forward through the wires. The sudden glare paralyzed this host, petrified them, you may say, with astonishment; there was just one instant for me to utilize their immobility in, and I didn’t lose the chance. You see, in another instant they would have recovered their faculties, then they’d have burst into a cheer and made a rush, and my wires would have gone down before it; but that lost instant lost them their opportunity forever; while even that slight fragment of time was still unspent, I shot the current through all the fences and struck the whole host dead in their tracks! There was a groan you could hear! It voiced the death pang of eleven thousand men. It swelled out on the night with awful pathos.
A glance showed that the rest of the enemy – perhaps ten thousand strong – were between us and the encircling ditch, and pressing forward to the assault. Consequently we had them all! and had them past help. Time for the last act of the tragedy. I fired the three appointed revolver shots – which meant:
“Turn on the water!”
There was a sudden rush and roar, and in a minute the mountain brook was raging through the big ditch and creating a river a hundred feet wide and twenty-five deep.
“Stand to your guns, men! Open fire!”
The thirteen gatlings began to vomit death into the fated ten thousand. They halted, they stood their ground a moment against that withering deluge of fire, then they broke, faced about and swept toward the ditch like chaff before a gale. A full fourth part of their force never reached the top of the lofty embankment; the three-fourths reached it and plunged over – to death by drowning.
Within ten short minutes after we had opened fire, armed resistance was totally annihilated, the campaign was ended, we fifty-four were masters of England! Twenty-five thousand men lay dead around us.


1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Literature

One response to “Excerpt from “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain ~~Annihilation~~

  1. Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who was born in Florida, Missouri, USA on 30 November 1835. He died in Redding, Connecticut, USA on 21 April 1910, aged 74 years.
    ‘Connecticut Yankee’ was completed in 1889.

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